Unemployment insurance reform: three key criteria deciphered

Posted Sep 20, 2022, 7:30 AM

While the executive regained control three years ago of the unemployment insurance scheme and tightened the conditions for compensation for job seekers, Emmanuel Macron believes that "we must go further" and would like the compensation rules to be adjusted more according to the economic situation.

The Ministry of Labor is preparing to send to the social partners a consultation letter on this project, the opportunity for "Les Echos" to decipher three arguments implied by this controversial reform.

· Refusal of permanent contracts: isolated cases or underlying trend?

A quest for meaning, greenery, retraining... The Covid has changed the relationship to work, and the balance is tilting for employees. On the other hand, refusals of CDIs at the end of a CDD or an interim mission are skyrocketing, warns the president of the CPME, François Asselin, at a time when recruitment difficulties have never been as high. At U2P too, it is pointed out that more and more young people give the impression of not wanting to get involved.

Except to survey their members, the two employers' organizations are not in a position to assess the phenomenon. Pôle emploi either, fault for its advisers to know if an unemployed person refused a CDI. " Fake. We can very well know if the job from which a person has freed himself is still to be filled, ”opposes the economist to the OFCE, Bruno Coquet. The Minister of Labour, Olivier Dussopt, has also hinted that an "improvement" of the public operator's software would make it possible to see things more clearly.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Labor points out that the employment rate has never been so high in France, whatever the age group . If there is a refusal of a position, it is therefore also to take one elsewhere, not always to return to Pôle emploi.

· Fewer unemployment benefits?

Opponents of the next reform assure that it will worsen the previous one, which came into force at the end of 2021. Evidenced by this, they argue, is the drop in the number of unemployed people receiving benefits, which fell to 2.6 million at the end of 2021 (- 400,000). Not so simple, because there are drops and drops.

Remember that, to be eligible for compensation, you must have worked 6 months out of 24 and no longer 4 out of 28. Not all those eligible for compensation are necessarily compensated, mainly because they work more or less, their allowance then being reduced, or even nothing. If the number of people receiving compensation has fallen sharply, it is under the dual effect of the end of the extension of unemployment rights decided during Covid and the significant rebound in the labor market, according to Unédic. The tightening of the rules will only start to weigh this year in an environment that is still favorable to employment (at least in the first semester). All in all, the drop is still expected to be significant (nearly 200,000).

Another way of apprehending the question consists in looking at the ratio between the total number of unemployed people who have received an unemployment insurance benefit (whatever it is) and the number of people registered in categories A, B, C, D and E. From December 2019 to May 2022, the ratio decreased by 5 points to reach 40%, according to calculations by “Echos”. The drop is significant but, here again, it is impossible to distinguish between the effects of the reform, for lack of evaluation, and the dynamism of hiring.

· Employment: the reversal?

With 1.5 million more jobs during Macron's first five-year term, half the road to full employment has been covered, claims Olivier Dussopt. It is therefore the right time to step up the reform, says the Minister of Labor to encourage the unemployed to take up the very many jobs available.

The good moment ? Not really say his detractors, who point to the return of layoffs. At this stage, this is not the case, judging by the data on labor movements from Dares for the first quarter (latest known figures for this statistic): whether they are economic or not, layoffs are more or less at their pre-crisis level. Fresher, the data at the end of July of layoffs followed by registration with Pôle emploi also show that we are in the same low water level.

They are mainly the resignations that took a big leap forward , a sign of the dynamism of the labor market. For how long ? Even if the threat of recession suggests that the party is over, at least for a few months, economists are lost in conjecture as the Covid has upset the models correlating GDP growth, productivity and employment.

If there is proof, it is enough to examine the evolution of two indicators of "return to better fortune" retained by Elisabeth Borne when she was Minister of Labor to initiate, at the end of 2021, the tightening of the compensation rules: reduction in the number of unemployed without activity by at least 130,000 over six rolling months concomitant with a cumulative number of hires of more than one month excluding temporary work greater than 2, 7 million over four months. The second indicator is still, very largely, achieved. The first, on the other hand, has not been so since February, according to the calculations of "Echos".

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